I must confess, I have a soft spot for a Warburton’s Toastie. I love that first, fresh crust slice with just a thin scraping of butter (only Lurpak will do!). A couple of soft white slices from a ‘bought that day’ loaf, spread with some crunchy peanut butter and half a sliced banana… divine!
This spelt cereal loaf – I borrowed a recipe from Country Bread by Linda Collister & Anthony Blake – is a much more healthy option than most loaves of bread you’d buy in the supermarket. Spelt flour has more protein and a little less calories than regular wheat flour. The added oats, bran, wheatgerm and sunflower seeds crank the nutritional value up to the max.
Justin enjoyed a few slices today with a bit of pate. I fancy a cheese & Branston pickle doorstop!
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flours with the cereals, seeds and salt
Make a well in the centre
Put the yeast into a measuring jug and make into a smooth liquid with a little of the water and pour into the well in the flour
Add the olive oil and remainder of the water
Gradually work the dry mixture into the liquid to make a soft, slightly sticky dough - it should not stick to the bowl or your fingers, so add a little more water if necessary
Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead well for 10 minutes
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or put the bowl into a large plastic bag and close tightly
Leave to prove at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size - about 2 hours
Knock back the risen dough with your knuckles to deflate it, then turn out onto a work surface
Pat out into a rectangle the length of your banneton or greased tin before putting it into the container
Cover and leave to rise again until almost double in size - 1-1½ hours
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7
Uncover the dough (if using a banneton, carefully tip the dough out on to a greased baking sheet) and bake for 35 minutes until it turns golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf
Cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before slicing & serving
This nutty millionaire’s shortbread tastes SO much better than any I’ve ever bought from a shop. I happened to have bags of whole almonds and hazelnuts in the larder, but it would be equally as good if you made it using pecans, Brazil nuts or walnuts. Cashew butter instead of peanut in the shortbread could be a good alternative to try too!
100g/3½oz mixed nuts (I used ½ & ½ hazelnuts and almonds)
125g/4oz plain dark chocolate
To make the caramel topping, put the unopened tin in a heavy-based saucepan and completely cover with water. Cover the saucepan with its lid and boil for about 1½ hours, topping up the water level if needed.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350F/Gas mark 4, 10 minutes before baking.
Sift in the cornflour and plain flour and mix to form a smooth dough
Using the back of a dessert spoon, press the mixture evenly into the lined cake tin and prick all over with a fork
Bake for 20 minutes or until just turning golden brown
Put the nuts on to a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes
Remove the shortbread from the oven and set aside on a wire rack
Remove the nuts from the oven and wrap them in a clean tea towel. Rub the nuts together to remove most of the skins (especially if you're using hazelnuts or 'red skinned' peanuts)
Reserve 9 of the nuts, roughly chop the remainder and sprinkle them evenly across the shortbread
Open the tin of boiled condensed milk (if the contents are quite rigid you can soften it by warming slightly in a saucepan on the stove or decant into a microwaveable container and heat for 20-30 seconds). Pour the caramel over the nuts and spread evenly. Refrigerate while you prepare the chocolate
Break up the chocolate into pieces and put them into a heat-proof bowl
Using a saucepan small enough not to allow the bowl to touch the bottom, fill the bowl with just enough water so that it doesn't come into contact with the base of the bowl
Simmer the saucepan of water until the chocolate has just melted
Pour the chocolate evenly over the top of the caramel
Place the whole nuts on top of the chocolate, one for each portion
Allow to set before slicing into squares & serving
You can parboil the tinned condensed milk in advance and the caramel can be stored for months & months before use. I always have a few cans of 'cooked' condensed milk stored in our larder.
We’ve been hooked on the Great British Bake Off since the very start. That’s where we were first introduced to the author of the syrup sponge recipe we’re featuring today.
Ruth Clemens of The Pink Whisk was the runner up in that inaugural series. Since then, she’s become a successful blogger, has had a number of cookbooks published and is a regular contributor to magazines; I tore out and kept this recipe from a recent copy of Stylist. The recipe is quick & simple to make and, if you’re a fan of very sweet gooey puddings like me, tastes great!
The sponge went down a storm with Justin, he enjoyed his with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – I paired mine with a dollop of crème fraîche. Custard would be another delicious option!
We haven’t met the world’s lone pie-hater yet either!
Buttery pastry & rich fillings – tasty, hearty & homely. What’s not to like?
You can, of course, find bad examples – the infamous petrol station pie springs to mind – cold, pale, soggy & bland. A very poor substitute for the wonderful offerings in this book.
They’re not difficult things to make. A bit of preparation maybe, but once they’re in the oven, they look after themselves. No last minute running around. Just the gorgeous smell of bubbling fillings & pastry browning to heighten the appetite.
This book expertly guides you through the whole process.
There’s an early chapter covering pastry – different types, methods, techniques & tips.
Then lots of examples of what to do with it.
Hot pies, cold pies, sweet & savoury pies.
Pies from Britain & the rest of Europe , North Africa, America and the Caribbean.
It features meat & vegetarian options.
Some very traditional pies such as steak & ale, cheese & onion and raised game. Others are far less familiar – Tunisian egg pastry pie, creamed celeriac & Serrano ham tartlets, greengage & ginger strudels.
There are a hundred recipes in all, so you’ll never run out of ideas!
The wonderful photography by Mike Cooper is sure to inspire you. The pies are beautifully staged with wooden boards, old knives, vintage enamelware, tins & crockery. The lighting is superb and the images really live.
Recipes are clear & concise – each neatly fitting onto its own page so there’s no turning backwards & forwards.
When it comes to pie, home-made is definitely best so this book is a must for any kitchen shelf. Pies can provide the perfect meal for a relaxed family gathering, a light lunch or a dinner party.
We defy you to read this book and not want to get baking.
Here’s a little preview of the first pie we tried from the book. It’s a leek, blue cheese & wild garlic pie – an interesting combination of ingredients that could all be locally sourced… and truly delicious which is the most important thing. Blog post with recipe to follow in a couple of days!
Magic cake is quick & easy to prepare, doesn’t have that many ingredients and most of all it’s very tasty!
I found the recipe on the Jo Cooks blog and she in turn first saw it on FoodEpix. The cake gets its name from the fact that it magically forms itself into three layers when cooked. It tastes a bit like an egg custard or a sweet soufflé. I like it warm, but I love it cold.
Don’t be alarmed by the thinness of the batter, it’s VERY thin. And don’t mind that it’s a bit lumpy when you’ve added the egg white – it’s meant to do that too! You can tweak the recipe to make lemon magic cake, chocolate magic cake or butterscotch magic cake… Magic!